Since the day I arrived here Jimah, who doesn’t speak a word of English and covers herself from head to toe anytime she leaves the house has been caring for me. Jimah is one of these wise old woman gifted with words not in any language. Versed in the kind of all knowing presence I long for.
She spends her time cooking for me, telling me to eat. Standing there arms crossed over her chest in a very loving way, urging me to “eat, eat” with a look of pity, or concern on her face like it’s somehow imperative to my survival. Clearly I am not wasting away I think to myself….but, that is not what she means, and I know that. So I sit and I eat. With fucking effort and meaning, like I am alive.
Every morning she prepares me fresh crepes, bread, orange juice by hand, an egg, fruit, coffee, and I try with all my might to force this stuff down, mostly, because I didn’t want to be rude at first.
I don’t eat breakfast these days. Like most Americans I just chug down a gross amount of coffee, maybe a slice of spouted grain toast if I’m not in too much of a rush…..but who’s not in a rush??? Even on days when I cook for everyone else in the morning I hardly touch it. I stopped and thought about it and I don’t often eat anything until dinner. Thats sad.
This has been a trend here in Morocco, people telling me to eat. Even young male servers look at me with concern and say “eat, eat” or if their english is better “you need to eat, the food, it’s good for you”. And I look around and everyone eats like they are alive…..I don’t know how better to say that……food and eating somehow equal life, oh wait, it does.
I eat with sadness,….with duty….something akin to fucking only for reproduction. What a horrible realization. Why do I find no pleasure in this thing so basic to life?
So with this realization, thanks to the keen observance of a wise old woman, I set out to eat more. Or at least eat with more purpose. And I have been. Tasting things, taking my time. Enjoying my tiny cups of coffee, not mourning the giant ones.
When I was in the rush the other morning and hadn’t had breakfast, she lied to my driver, unbeknownst to me, pulled me in the house and hurriedly stuffed food down my throat while standing up at the kitchen counter.
This was to be a sprint race style breakfast, ready, set, GO. All done though smiles and laughter like we were idiot school girls getting away with something wrong.
I’d never seen her so happy as when I was clearly on board with her plan and obliged. Shoveling down handfuls of chopped up fruit, forgoing utensils, chugging her fresh squeezed orange juice with a smile on my face. The whole glass unlike the half I usually force myself to sip. The sly old thing grabbed the glass and poured me more before I knew what was happening. She was so happy to see me eat and drink with such joy.
And we laughed….. I don’t think another soul on the planet would have known what we were laughing about and that’s ok, it was a good laugh. A truthful laugh.
She wetted her torn old dish cloth for my hands and face because she knew they were sticky from the fruit, blotted me down quick like and sent me on my way, pastry bag in hand like I was a school child. Where the hell she pulled that out of I have not a clue? But I ate it with a little smirk as I drove away in the back seat of the car. Ah, Jimah, you wise old woman.